SPEED RACER Production Notes
A Detailed Look at the New Live Action Film!
Source: Warner Bros.
Official Site: Speed Racer The Movie
Photos courtesy of Gemma Cacho, Warner Bros.
SPOILER WARNING: This article contains plot details for a new film.
The following production notes were created by Warner Bros. Pictures for their theatrical feature SPEED RACER, opening nationwide this Friday, May 9. The text is © 2008 Warner Bros. Entertainment.
From the Wachowski brothers and producer Joel Silver, creators of the groundbreaking THE MATRIX trilogy, comes the high-octane family adventure SPEED RACER.
Hurtling down the track, careening around, over and through the competition, Speed Racer (Emile Hirsch) is a natural behind the wheel. Born to race cars, Speed is aggressive, instinctive and, most of all, fearless. His only real competition is the memory of the brother he idolized—the legendary Rex Racer, whose death in a race has left behind a legacy that Speed is driven to fulfill.
Speed is loyal to the family racing business, led by his father, Pops Racer (John Goodman), the designer of Speed’s thundering Mach 5. When Speed turns down a lucrative and tempting offer from Royalton Industries, he not only infuriates the company’s maniacal owner (Roger Allam) but uncovers a terrible secret—some of the biggest races are being fixed by a handful of ruthless tycoons who manipulate the top drivers to boost profits. If Speed won’t drive for Royalton, Royalton will see to it that Speed never crosses another finish line.
The only way for Speed to save his family’s business and the sport he loves is to beat Royalton at his own game. With the support of his family and his loyal girlfriend, Trixie (Christina Ricci), Speed teams with his one-time rival—the mysterious Racer X (Matthew Fox)—to win the race that had taken his brother’s life: the death-defying, cross-country rally known as The Crucible.
Yet, the ultimate test of Speed Racer’s true racing grit will be at the pinnacle event of the World Racing League: the Grand Prix. But standing between Speed and the checkered flag are the world’s best—and most cutthroat—competitors, fueled by a million-dollar bounty from Royalton to the driver who takes Speed out once and for all.
SPEED RACER marks the Wachowski brothers’ first writing/directing collaboration since THE MATRIX movies. Joel Silver, who previously worked with the Wachowskis on THE MATRIX movies and V FOR VENDETTA, produced the film under his Silver Pictures banner. Grant Hill, Andy Wachowski and Larry Wachowski are also producers, with David Lane Seltzer, Michael Lambert and Bruce Berman serving as executive producers.
The behind-the-scenes creative team includes director of photography David Tattersall, production designer Owen Paterson, editors Zach Staenberg and Roger Barton, and costume designer Kym Barrett. The music is by Michael Giacchino. John Gaeta and Dan Glass are the visual effects supervisors.
SPEED RACER stars Emile Hirsch (INTO THE WILD) in the title role; Christina Ricci (THE OPPOSITE SEX) as Speed’s girlfriend Trixie; John Goodman (THE BIG LEBOWSKI) and Oscar winner Susan Sarandon (DEAD MAN WALKING) as Pops Racer and Mom Racer; Matthew Fox (TV’s LOST) as Racer X; Roger Allam (THE QUEEN, V FOR VENDETTA) as Royalton; Paulie Litt (TV’s HOPE & FAITH) as Spritle; Benno Fürmann(THE MUTANT CHRONICLES) as Inspector Detector; Hiroyuki Sanada (THE LAST SAMURAI) as Mr. Musha; Asian pop superstar Rain, making his American feature film debut, as a rival driver named Taejo Togokahn; Richard Roundtree (TV’s HEROES, SHAFT) as Ben Burns; and Kick Gurry (DALTRY CALHOUN) as Sparky.
Based on the classic series created by anime pioneer Tatsuo Yoshida, the liveaction SPEED RACER showcases the kind of revolutionary visual effects and cutting edge storytelling that have become benchmarks of the Wachowski brothers’ films.
SPEED RACER is a Warner Bros. Pictures presentation, in association with Village Roadshow Pictures, of a Silver Pictures Production, in association with Anarchos Productions.
Digitally re-mastered into the unparalleled image and sound quality of The IMAX Experience with proprietary IMAX DMR (digital re-mastering) technology, SPEED RACER: The IMAX EXPERIENCE will debut concurrently with the nationwide 35mm release in conventional theatres.
SPEED RACER has been rated PG by the MPAA for sequences of action, some violence and language.
“To me, racing isn’t just a sport—it’s a way of life.” – Speed Racer
REIGNITING THE MACH 5
Creators of THE MATRIX trilogy, writers/directors/producers Larry and Andy Wachowski have helped redefine the action film genre with their unique brand of filmmaking, which blends multi-layered storytelling with groundbreaking visual effects. Bringing the classic cartoon series SPEED RACER to the big screen was an opportunity for the Wachowskis to re-envision an enduring classic and, at the same time, reach a broader family audience.
“With THE MATRIX, Larry and Andy created a visual style that altered your consciousness as you watched the movie. You saw things that you could not imagine happening on film,” says producer Joel Silver. “And with SPEED RACER, they wanted to change the way you see movies again. They had a new concept in mind for telling the story with cars flying along the most spectacular and challenging racetracks—fantastic action sequences like nothing you’ve ever seen. It’s a new approach to combining CGI with live action. The brothers love to break the mold; they love to push the envelope.” Producer Grant Hill offers, “Besides being one of their favorite cartoons growing up, one of the things that interested the Wachowskis most in adapting SPEED RACER was the strong family dynamic in the original series. Larry and Andy had a strong desire to make a family film; they wanted to create a movie their nieces and nephews could see.”
“They wrote a pure family movie, maintaining the essence of the original centered on Speed and his family in a completely new adventure,” adds Silver. “SPEED RACER is for everybody. It’s got great characters, great action beats and, of course, great visuals.”
The film centers on Speed Racer’s journey to become the best race car driver in the World Racing League (WRL). To Speed, the two most important aspects of his life are car racing and his family. The story positions Speed and his family as one of the last independent racing teams facing an increasingly uphill battle against fierce competition from racers backed by mega-sponsors. The stakes are so high that the outcome of a major race could determine the fate of a driver or an entire organization.
In creating the racing action, the Wachowskis tapped into their wildest imaginations to conceive a style of auto racing beyond anything we know. Race cars in SPEED RACER are a perfect synergy of form and function, capable of performing gravity-defying stunts on incredible courses at over 400 mph. Highly customized works of automotive art, each racecar is wilder than the next and is designed to reflect the persona of its driver.
The vibrant, candy-colored world of SPEED RACER is one in which many eras and styles co-exist, all intersecting in the dominant sport of racing. “You’re seeing what’s past, present and future in the aesthetic of this film,” says Joel Silver. “The society is car crazy, and Larry and Andy have been able to come up with designs for cars that you have never seen before. We’ve seen fancy concept cars in magazines and movies, but this film takes that to a totally new level. These cars can do anything, making the races thrilling beyond anything you’ve ever seen.”
Grant Hill offers, “Larry and Andy are always looking for ways to take things to the next level. We looked at some extreme sports like skateboarding and snowboarding, which have a very fluid motion, and imagined how racecourses would need to look and how fast cars would need to go in order for drivers to perform similar aerial maneuvers.” Of course, no WRL race in SPEED RACER would be complete without gladiator-style battle tactics skirting the edge of what’s legal, involving spear hooks, tire shanks and saw blades. Silver offers, “This vision of an extreme, full-contact motor sport, best described as an acrobatic blend of martial arts and Formula 1, was dubbed by Larry and Andy as ‘Car-Fu,’ automotive martial arts.
“The original SPEED RACER series was the Wachowski brothers’ introduction to Japanese animation,” reveals Silver. “Larry and Andy were fascinated by the stories, the action and the unique visual style of the series, all of which were so remarkably different from that of the other cartoons on TV during that time. They went on to become big fans of SPEED RACER, as well as of Japanese anime as a whole.” In fact, fans of SPEED RACER span multiple generations and many cultures. The original SPEED RACER cartoon series was born out of a Japanese manga (comic book) series, created by anime pioneer Tastuo Yoshida, entitled Pilot Ace. In 1967, the comic evolved into a Japanese television show named MACH GO GO GO, followed by the English-dubbed, American adaptation, SPEED RACER, six months later.
SPEED RACER was an instant smash hit across the United States, capturing the imaginations of young American audiences with its blend of exhilarating car action, international intrigue, family values, teen romance and irreverent humor. Unlike anything they had seen before, SPEED RACER featured the young and determined hero who triumphed against unscrupulous competitors while racing around the world in his powerful and ultra sleek Mach 5.
Over 40 years and several television incarnations later, the story of Speed Racer and his adventures in the Mach 5 has been re-imagined for the big screen by the Wachowski brothers, employing not only spectacular visual effects and high-flying action, but also cutting-edge photographic techniques and state-of-the-art computergenerated imagery.
When the main cast of SPEED RACER arrived at Babelsberg Studios in Berlin, the Wachowski brothers gave the actors a first look at the world they would be entering, including paintings, storyboards and artwork, as well as an extended pre-vis (3D storyboard animation) of a race sequence.
“Watching the pre-vis sequence was humbling,” states Emile Hirsch, who stars in the title role of Speed Racer. “It was amazing to see how much work had already been done on this film before we even started shooting. It didn’t feel sci-fi, like THE MATRIX films. It felt more magical. It’s more about colors than darkness.”
“There were 12 actors in the room, and I guarantee you, it’s a rare occasion when so many actors are in a room together and completely speechless,” recalls Matthew Fox, who plays Racer X. “Everyone was looking at each other, completely blown away. It was pretty exciting. There are very few times in life when you’re part of a project that is endeavoring to do something that’s never been done before, and this was one of those times.”
THE RACER FAMILY, FRIENDS AND FOES
There are two elements at the center of SPEED RACER—racing and the Racer family, both of which are deeply intertwined. “Speed’s family eats, drinks, and breathes car racing. After all, their last name is Racer,” smiles Emile Hirsch. “They work together as a unit. It’s all about teamwork and doing the right thing. I think that’s what makes the heart of the story appealing—everyone gets to participate in the adventure.”
The Racer family home is an idyllic suburban single-family house, where Pops Racer builds racecars in the garage and their pride and joy, the Mach 5, is the centerpiece of the living room. Mom Racer is the backbone of the Racer household, providing comfort, support, and advice, not to mention delicious baked goods. Speed’s wisecracking younger brother, Spritle, and their family pet chimpanzee, Chim-Chim, have their own ways for staying close to the action by hitching rides in the trunk of Speed’s Mach 5 or hiding in unexpected places. Speed’s faithful girlfriend, Trixie, shows her dedication to the Racer family on, off and even above the track from her pink helicopter. Sparky provides dependable service to Racer Motors as Pops’ trusty mechanic.
For the title role, Hirsch held the pole position in the minds of filmmakers throughout an exhaustive casting process that spanned three continents and involved hundreds of actors. “I couldn’t believe it when I got the part,” Hirsch states. “I used to watch the SPEED RACER cartoon at home in the mornings while eating my cereal. I’ve watched every episode. I’m also a huge fan of THE MATRIX trilogy, so I am really excited to be in a movie directed by Larry and Andy.”
“When we first met Emile, we knew that he had the right look, youthful appeal and talent necessary to play Speed Racer,” Joel Silver offers. “At the time, INTO THE WILD had not even come out, but we also felt strongly about his ability to carry the lead role in our movie.”
Christina Ricci plays Trixie, Speed’s number-one crush, who has been his friend and fan since grade school. Smart, stylish and strong-willed, Trixie can be found cheering for Speed in the grandstand or helping him navigate treacherous racecourses from her helicopter.
“Trixie is my kind of girl,” says Ricci. “She’s always up for adventure and does everything the boys do without the film commenting on the fact she’s a girl. She does all these things—strategizes with Speed, flies a helicopter and even does kung fu—but she has a special super cute ensemble for each activity. Trixie is a tomboy and girly girl all at the same time, which makes her really fun.”
Never one to discount the significance of personal style, Ricci recalls, “When I went in for my meeting with the Wachowskis, I was intimidated to meet them because I had been such a big fan of theirs for so long. I was a bit shy and couldn’t really speak, but then I looked down and saw that we were all wearing the same black Chuck Taylor Converse sneakers and I knew then that everything was going to be alright.”
Another steadfast supporter in Speed’s world is Mom Racer, played by Susan Sarandon. The Oscar-winning actress was attracted to the project by the Wachowskis’ story, which emphasizes the importance of a cohesive family unit. “I liked the idea that the Racer family lives in a timeless little pod, where they still sit down together to have dinner every night,” she says. “Mom Racer is the glue that holds everybody together.” “Mom Racer is definitely the rock of the Racer family,” adds John Goodman, who stars as the head of the Racer family in the role of Pops Racer. “She’s the one everybody goes to with problems.”
Pops Racer is a brilliant car designer and engineer who builds Speed’s racecars, just as he had Rex Racer’s cars before him. “He’s been building cars since Speed was an infant,” says Goodman. Staunchly independent and driven more by passion for the sport than profit, “Pops is extremely wary of Royalton’s offer,” Goodman adds. “He hopes that Speed will turn it down, but he’s willing to let Speed decide for himself.” Goodman, who also grew up watching the SPEED RACER cartoon series on TV, recalls, “I had never seen anything like SPEED RACER when it first came out, so I watched it all the time. When I heard that the Wachowskis were shooting a live-action version, I jumped at the chance be a part of it.”
While Emile Hirsch, John Goodman and the Wachowski brothers enjoyed the SPEED RACER television series as kids, Matthew Fox, who plays the mysterious Racer X, had a notably different experience. “I grew up on a farm in Wyoming without a television, so I missed out on watching SPEED RACER as a kid.” Fox nevertheless did his homework prior to his first meeting with the Wachowskis. “I did some research on the cartoon series before I met with Larry and Andy, and when I saw how Racer X was portrayed in the original show, I became even more eager to play the role.”
Fox did share some common ground with the Wachowskis, noting, “One of the first things they said to me about their goal with this project was that they wanted to make a movie their nieces and nephews could really enjoy. I have a ten-year-old daughter and a five-and-a-half-year-old son, so knowing that my kids will see me as Racer X in this movie is tremendously exciting.” On the role of Racer X, Fox states, “This is not a guy that’s walking around in disguise because he wants to. He’s operating at a really deep level of intelligence gathering and working with a secret law enforcement organization to stop corruption in racing. The stakes are life-and-death for a lot of people, which require his true identity remain concealed.”
Doing their own share of inconspicuous intelligence gathering are the offbeat dynamic duo of Spritle, the youngest member of the Racer family, and his pet chimpanzee, Chim-Chim. The two are always looking for adventure, but are usually left behind by the adults, so they get creative in finding ways to join the fun, such as stowing away in the trunk of Speed’s Mach 5.
“Spritle is a mischievous little boy who wants to be like the grownups,” says actor Paulie Litt, who plays Spritle. “Everybody underestimates him. They wanna protect him because he’s just a child, but what they don’t know is that even though he’s small, he’s mighty. He’s chock-full of knowledge about racing and cars and wants to be part of everything, so he finds ways to avoid being left out. If he had his way, he’d be in the trunk of the Mach 5 for every race.”
Only 11 years old during production, Litt won the role of Spritle over 250 other young hopefuls. “It was every kid’s dream,” Litt states. “I got to be on a movie set in Germany for the summer and I got to hang out with a chimpanzee all day. How cool is that?”
Chim-Chim was actually played by two chimps named Willy and Kenzie. “There were really only two or three chimps in the world with the training to fit the role,” says animal coordinator Sled Reynolds. Willy, who was three years old and had the benefit of advanced training, was the lead chimp, while the younger Kenzie, at two, served as Willy’s understudy and stand-in.
Since Spritle and Chim-Chim are never far apart onscreen, it was important that they develop a bond. The process of building a relationship between Litt and the chimpanzees took place over the course of eight weeks. “Paulie spent two or three hours a day with Willy and Kenzie and gradually developed a rapport with them. He was very respectful of the chimps and became a natural with them,” Reynolds remarks. “I’m a big animal person, so I had a blast working with Willy and Kenzie,” Litt attests. “They’re so lovable and intelligent, and they had very different personalities and facial features, just like you and me.”
Recognizing Speed Racer as a real up-and-comer—and potential threat to his dominance of the sport—billionaire tycoon E.P. Arnold Royalton, founder of the multinational corporation Royalton Industries, offers Speed a lucrative sponsorship deal that will give him access to Royalton’s state-of-the-art equipment and training facilities. “Royalton offers Speed the deal of a lifetime, but with strings attached,” says Hirsch. “He must choose between driving for Royalton for lots of money and continuing to race as an independent against the most powerfully backed drivers on the circuit. When Speed declines Royalton’s offer, Royalton threatens Speed, telling him that all of the races are fixed and that he will never win another race without Royalton. From that moment on, Speed sets out to prove Royalton wrong and to protect the sport that he
For the role of the greed-driven founder of Royalton Industries, the Wachowskis sought the talents of acclaimed British actor Roger Allam, with whom they had previously worked on V FOR VENDETTA. Allam offers, “It’s great to work with Larry and Andy once again. The brothers are very relaxed on set and work great in tandem.” Allam describes Royalton as “a self-made man. He’s not from a wealthy background as one might assume for someone in his position. He is someone who started out as an ambitious businessman who has worked hard for his success and, in doing so, created a vast industrial empire. He is powerful to an extent where he thinks he can influence the outcome of every race.”
Royalton’s latest plot involves manipulating two competing families on the WRL circuit: Musha Motors and Togokahn Motors. The head of Musha Motors, Mr. Musha, is played by acclaimed Japanese actor Hiroyuki Sanada. “Mr. Musha is a pure businessman,” remarks Sanada. “He has wanted to control his main rival, Togokahn Motors, for a long time. Royalton knows this and offers to deliver Togokahn to Musha in exchange for Musha Motors’ transponder foundry. This deal will allow Musha to dominate his competition and allow Royalton to corner the transponder market.”
Sanada grew up watching the original Japanese version of MACH GO GO GO in his native Japan. “I can still remember the opening song. SPEED RACER made history for Japanese animation in the United States and the Wachowski brothers are always making history with their films, so I am very happy to be a part of this movie.”
Making history in his own right is Korean pop sensation Rain, who was recently named one of TIME Magazine’s “Top 100 Most Influential People”. Rain makes his American feature debut in SPEED RACER as Taejo Togokahn, the lead driver and heir apparent of Togokahn Motors. (Watch SciFi Japan for an upcoming interview with Rain).
“I think people are going to be blown away by Rain in this film. He has a great presence onscreen that just commands your attention,” Silver states. Rain’s character Taejo is forced to defend his family name when they are threatened by Royalton’s plot. “Togokahn Motors has been in Taejo’s family for five generations,” notes Rain. “Racing in the WRL has changed a great deal over the generations since Taejo’s family started the business. There used to be a certain nobility about the sport and the drivers, but now everything seems to be about image, branding and profits. Like Speed, my character is out to protect the family business.”
Hot on the tracks of Royalton’s plot to take over Togokahn Motors is Inspector Detector, played by German actor Benno Fürmann. “Inspector Detector has been investigating corruption in the World Racing League for many years,” Fürmann states. “Now he is teamed with Racer X and they are getting close to uncovering Royalton’s scheme, but they need the help of Speed Racer to make it happen.”
Completing the main cast in SPEED RACER are Australian actor Kick Gurry, who plays Sparky, Racer Motors’ indispensable gearhead and a member of the extended Racer family; and Richard Roundtree, who plays Ben Burns, a legendary WRL racer and former champion of the Grand Prix.
Fans of the original series may remember Speed’s longtime nemeses Snake Oiler, Cruncher Block and the Gray Ghost—played by Christian Oliver, John Benfield and Moritz Bleibtreu, respectively. The Wachowskis have also introduced new rivals, including Jack “Cannonball” Taylor, one of the most celebrated drivers in the WRL circuit and star member of Royalton’s team, played by Ralph Herforth; Prince Kabala, a driver whose car is completely encrusted in precious jewels and worth an estimated $22 million, played by Ashley Walters; Delila, leader of the Flying Foxes Freight team, whose devious racing tactics may deflate Speed’s chances of finishing a race, played by Jana Pallaske; and Grand Prix competitor Kellie “Gearbox” Kalinkov, played by Venezuelanborn Indy-car driver Milka Duno.
Though the process of assembling the internationally diverse cast SPEED RACER was no easy feat, producer Grant Hill offers, “I think Larry and Andy did a wonderful job populating the world of ‘Speed Racer.’ It was cool to hear so many different languages being used on set, and an international project like SPEED RACER deserves a truly international cast.”
“We really had an amazingly diverse cast, but everyone fit their roles perfectly,” agrees Joel Silver. “And it was great to watch the dynamic between Susan and John with the younger actors like Emile and Christina and Paulie. They really did become like a family on the set.”
THE CARS, THE RACETRACKS AND THE BIRTH OF “CAR-FU”
Speed Racer’s thundering Mach 5 is perhaps one of the world’s most recognizable cars onscreen. Its aggressive profile, complemented by a glossy, white finish with a red ‘M’ emblazoned across the hood, is firmly etched in the minds SPEED RACER fans around the world. While the updated design of the Mach 5 could have gone in a number of directions, “we eventually came back to a semi-retro look with very sleek lines,” says production designer Owen Paterson.
“After exploring several possibilities, Larry and Andy looked at the original Mach 5’s iconic profile and decided to retain the essence of the original because its look is truly timeless and unique,” says Joel Silver. While the Mach 5 will always be the car most closely associated with Speed Racer in the minds of diehard fans, the Wachowskis upped the ante by introducing a new generation of the Mach series—the Mach 6.
“As can be expected with Larry and Andy, they also wanted to break new ground here,” says Paterson. “For the Mach 6, which is used strictly for track racing in the World Racing League, we went for a very bold-yet-refined profile, and maintained the color scheme and overall ‘M’ shape of the Mach 5.”
Furthermore, “Larry and Andy coined a term to describe the Mach 6 and cars in its class in the film,” continues the production designer. “They called these types of cars ‘T180s’ for their ability to turn their wheels 180 degrees and drift across banks sideways, generating several Gs of lateral acceleration.”
Paterson and his team began work nearly a year in advance of principal photography to create more than 100 individual car designs. “In our world we have architects, but in the world of SPEED RACER people hire ‘carchitects’ to custom build their vehicles,” Paterson states. “We brought together some of the most talented artists in the field, from storyboard artists to top designers within the automotive industry. We wanted to have fun with them and let everyone bounce ideas off of one another,” says Hill.
Once the car designs were approved, they were modeled and painted in a digital environment. Additionally, Speed’s Mach 5 and Racer X’s Shooting Star were physically constructed in full-scale for use in certain scenes. And while you could sit in the cockpit of each car, these full-size replicas weren’t actually going anywhere as no power trains were installed. All of the high-flying, hard-hitting car action in the film was rendered digitally with CGI.
The filmmakers initially contemplated the possibility of shooting race sequences in the film using real cars on practical racetracks. However, Paterson notes, “Given the style of our cars and the high-impact action that we wanted to achieve, it made much more sense to create it digitally.”
“At the speeds they’re driving and with the combative techniques they use, there are a lot of precarious moments on the track,” says visual effects supervisor Dan Glass. “It’s an extremely dangerous-looking sport, but no one gets seriously hurt, because we’ve developed a special device that protects the driver.”
Visual effects supervisor John Gaeta adds, “Larry and Andy came up with a safety feature they call ‘Kwiksave Foam,’ which is like a big rubber ball that inflates around the driver to protect them in the event of a crash. This is standard equipment on all of the cars that compete in the World Racing League.”
As impressive as the cars are, they needed an equally dramatic place to show off their moves. “The Wachowski brothers’ first directive was, ‘Our racetracks should be a cross between a giant ski slalom and a skateboard park,’” recalls Paterson. “Larry and Andy felt strongly about making sure that each of the races looked very different from each other,” says Silver. “Since we have the freedom to build tracks and backgrounds digitally, we really put our imaginations into overdrive. You’re going to see things that are fantastic and thrilling; the races will keep you on the edge of your seat.”
Four racetracks were created, each with unique characteristics. Not only do the racetracks feature gut-challenging loop-the-loops, winding spirals and breathtaking jumps, but they also take place against exotic-looking environs. Speed Racer’s hometown track is Thunderhead, where his late brother, Rex, still holds the track record. While Thunderhead is a world-class track, it is not one of the majors on the WRL circuit. Paterson notes, “Thunderhead is a track that’s definitely seen better days. Still, it holds a special place in Speed’s heart because of Rex Racer’s legacy. It has all of the excitement our other tracks bring, including spirals, banks, butterflies and giant drops.” The second track in SPEED RACER, the Fuji Helexicon, a big-league track on the WRL circuit, is set on a tropical archipelago against a backdrop of natural volcanoes and ultramodern buildings inspired by the designs of internationally renowned architects. The track weaves in and out of the atoll and over the glittering sea with awe-inspiring twists and turns.
The Casa Cristo 5000 is the death-defying road rally race where Rex Racer lost his life. This perilous course, so dangerous that it has been nicknamed “The Crucible,” spans several continents and crosses every imaginable terrain. Drivers must endure extreme climates, from the blistering desert heat in the Zunubian Desert to the narrow Glacier Cliffs and icy Maltese Ice Caves. One wrong turn could send a driver plummeting thousands of feet to his or her demise. Though the WRL has made an effort to clean up the style of racing in this event, underhanded driving tricks, including spear hooks, tire shanks and catapults, make the Casa Cristo 5000 the most brutal test of endurance in SPEED RACER.
“The Casa Cristo 5000 is the most treacherous cross-country race in the world, and competitors will use whatever means to get ahead,” Paterson explains. “We developed what I called the Roman chariot kind of racing, where we have big swords coming out of the cars and shields to protect the wheels.”
There is intense pressure to win the Casa Cristo 5000 because the champion will gain entry to compete in the most highly regarded event in the WRL, the Grand Prix. A victory at the Grand Prix will not only garner fame and fortune for the winner, but also make him or her an instant legend in the World Racing League. “Imagine an event bigger than the Daytona 500, the Indy 500 and the World Cup combined,” says Joel Silver. “The WRL’s Grand Prix is this event in the world of SPEED RACER.”
“The Grand Prix racecourse is built right into the city of Cosmopolis,” Paterson states. “It’s enormous. It is a fantastical high-rise track with giant dips, loops and butterfly turns that enable the cars to accelerate at breakneck speeds.” The inspiration for the design and setting of the Grand Prix comes from the Wachowski brothers, “who grew up in Chicago and had always enjoyed the idea of being able to watch a baseball game at Wrigley Field from the rooftops of its surrounding buildings,” Paterson continues. “They had this idea that we could take whole skyscrapers and turn them into grandstands. As a result, the city itself became a grandstand for the biggest race of the year.”
Another feature of the Grand Prix racetrack was a visual illusion added by the Wachowskis to pay homage to Eadweard Muybridge, a 19th-century photographer known for pioneering instantaneous motion picture capture with multiple cameras, the principles of which were an influence in the development of creating the “Bullet time” effect in THE MATRIX.
Along one straightaway of the Grand Prix racetrack, the filmmakers placed a series of zebra images along the wall in the background, and as Speed Racer and his racing competitors accelerate across the screen, the combined set of images viewed in rapid succession simulate the effect of the zebra running in motion, akin to Muybridge’s series of photographs known as “The Horse in Motion.”
“We love to give nods to our inspirations, and so the zebra zoetrope is essentially a wink to the inspiration of ‘Bullet time’ in a literal sense,” says Gaeta. “We planted a lot of illusions in the backgrounds of this film, and among them is this homage to Muybridgean photography in the veil of an advertisement on the Grand Prix track.”
Meticulous attention was also paid to covering the many camera angles required to capture each actor’s close-ups and reactions during the fast-paced action sequences in SPEED RACER. While the exterior of the cars were composed digitally, full-size cockpits—replete with steering wheels, gas and brake pedals and back-lit instrument panels—were fabricated and mounted on hydraulically powered gimbals controlled by a virtual-reality driving program to simulate vehicle dynamics of actual racecars. Second unit director James McTeigue, director of V FOR VENDETTA, worked with his team to shoot the film’s four major racing sequences, staged against a 200 x 40-foot green screen. The gimbals were designed to simulate the movement of the various cars in each race as they made their way around the tracks. The powerful, hydraulically operated platform enabled the cockpits to move in a three-dimensional space, precisely mimicking a driver’s commands over a custom-designed track.
“The gimbals’ base is controlled by software that ties the movement of the car cockpit to the pre-visualized scene. We also threw in live elements like wind to help the actors feel as though they were actually driving instead of being driven,” says Owen Paterson.
From an actor’s perspective, Rain offers, “Riding the gimbal was pretty intense. It’s probably the closest thing I’ll come to driving a Formula 1 car, but much less dangerous.”
“Working with a gimbal was a fun, new challenge for me,” recalls Emile Hirsch. “You really get thrown around in there, so you don’t have to pretend like you’re being tossed around in a scene. It’s more realistic than pretending to drive something stationary.”
Matthew Fox adds, “The gimbal is wild and requires a good amount of focus. It’s important for the action to look convincing, since the racing in ‘Speed Racer’ is a full contact sport. James and his team had total control of the gimbal and they adjusted the levels and manipulated that thing however they wanted. I was always telling them to ‘Crank it up!’”
THE HYPER-STYLIZED WORLD OF “SPEED RACER”
Speed’s quest for racing glory takes him around the world, from the Thunderhead racetrack in his hometown to the multi-continent Casa Cristo 5000 road rally to the Grand Prix in Cosmopolis. To create the varied settings and action sequences, the Wachowskis called on the expertise of some of the most innovative designers, visual effects artists and digital photographers in the field, many of whom they’d worked with in the past. The directors handed the critical task of overseeing the creation of the film’s 2000-plus visual effects shots to visual effects supervisors Dan Glass and Oscar winner John Gaeta.
“We wanted to have locations from around the world that would normally be impossible to shoot, like exotic foreign cities, arid deserts or icy mountain roads,” explains Owen Paterson. “Places where most directors wish to shoot but couldn’t because it’s either too remote or can’t accommodate a film crew. Instead, the decision was made to take the best of those rare and exotic locations and ‘virtualize’ them, allowing the visual effects department to incorporate them into scenes.” The final imagery in SPEED RACER was created using actors against green screens joined with high-definition digital image captures of far-reaching locations, including Italy, Morocco, Austria, Turkey and Death Valley. These images were captured by a small camera team using ultrahigh resolution digital still cameras and later pieced together to create 360-degree panoramic backgrounds known as QuickTime Virtual Reality (QTVR) spheres, also informally referred to by the SPEED RACER team as “bubble photography.”
Dan Glass notes, “Because the bubble photography unit is made up of only a few people and requires considerably less equipment than a full-scale production team, we were able to use exotic locations that typically don’t give access to large film crews.”
“The idea is to get freer and freer with our creative process,” offers Gaeta.
“When the images captured were tiled together, it created a panoramic view in which you could put the camera where you want in postproduction, and see what you want to see at pretty much any focal length. We expanded on our ‘Bullet time’ concept from THE MATRIX with ‘Racer time,’ which is similar to ‘Bullet time’ but includes attention to planes of depth.”
The Wachowskis were the first filmmakers to utilize Sony’s F-23 HD camera, which had not yet been released to the public when principal photography began. “We used the first five F-23 cameras that Sony made, and the cameras performed beautifully,” says director of photography David Tatersall, who had worked on STAR WARS EPISODES II and III,” both shot in HD. “This was a perfect choice for the look that Larry and Andy were aiming for. We composed our shots to look very sharp, super saturated and very glossy.”
“We pushed the colors beyond the usual limits to produce what we called ‘poptimistic’ or ‘techno-color’ imagery,” adds Glass. To render the film’s myriad of visual effects shots, the Wachowskis achieved what they called a “live-action anime look” using a visual-layering technique that allows the foreground, mid-ground and background to stay in focus, much like that of traditional 2D animation. This technique came to be called by the filmmakers “2½D technology.”
Glass explains, “In the film, each layer—the foregrounds, mid-grounds and backgrounds—were created separately. The way these planes move against one another has a quality we’ve all grown up seeing in cartoons; it’s like a second language to children.” Intentionally striving for emotion over realism and blurring lines of perspective, for instance, was quite liberating for the visual effects team. “We’re playing against perspective and creating images that deliberately break the rules.”
“Anime is such an expressive format,” states Gaeta. “In the cartoon series, which was of course hand drawn, there are unrealistic perspectives deliberately created to spark emotions. It’s less about what’s real and more about what the artist wants you to feel. Translating this into live action involved a process that is, in the simplest terms, like creating moving collages.”
While many of the sets and locations in SPEED RACER were virtual versions of the locations or computer generated, a handful of practical sets were also built. Production designer Owen Paterson describes the world of SPEED RACER as “taking place in a fusion retro-futuristic era, a parallel reality where the optimism and fashion of the 1960s is juxtaposed with the hyper-competitiveness and technology of the future. Larry and Andy didn’t want the world of SPEED RACER to be confined to a specific era.” Two contrasting milieus are presented in SPEED RACER: one that the Racer family inhabits, which is safe and suburban, and another that is sleek, ultramodern and overrun by corporate advertising. “The Racer family lives in an uncomplicated suburban landscape where the colors are warm, bright and very saturated,” says Paterson. “We did a lot of the concept work in Los Angeles and were influenced by the mid-century modern style of homes there.”
In contrast, Royalton Industries is based in the ultramodern city of Cosmopolis, a colder reality that is lit artificially by outdoor billboards and corporate logos. Paterson states, “We’ve taken the skyline of a bustling, modern city like Shanghai or Hong Kong, both architecturally and from an advertising sense, and then applied that to the very multinational conglomerate-driven world run by Royalton. It’s global branding and marketing on steroids.” Inside, Royalton’s office is a spacious but sterile environment, largely silver grey, but accented with shades of purple to convey a sense of power, wealth and extravagance.
As the Racer family is the heart of the film’s story, so too was the Racer family house the heart of the production’s shoot. It was on this set that many of the film’s most endearing family moments unfolded. Additionally, unlike a typical suburban home, the focal point of the Racer family living room was the Mach 5, parked right in the middle of house.
Coordination between Owen Paterson and costume designer Kym Barrett was essential. Says Barrett, “All the characters have a color palette: Pops and Mom are red and green, respectively; Speed wears blue and white. To set off those costume colors, we used a lot of orange, turquoise and fuchsia pink in the house. We tied it all together with red floors, ‘Racer Red’ as we called it.” For sequences shot against green screen, Barrett had to find alternative color schemes as anything green would disappear onscreen.
“In my first meeting with Larry and Andy, they told me they wanted rich primary colors,” continues Barrett. “Instead of getting into too many specifics right away, they started the process by describing their concept of creating a live-action cartoon for all ages. Once that was established, they left me to my own devices.”
In referencing the original cartoon, Barrett found a stylized pop Americana of the 1960s, in which her Racer family costumes would find their root. Barrett used primary colored fabrics, at times patterned, to achieve a retro-futuristic look. Speed Racer’s outfit in the cartoon series remained the same in every episode: the trademark blue polo shirt with white collar, white trousers and tan racing gloves, as well as a red kerchief and red socks. When initially creating the MACH GO GO GO hero in the 1960s, Tatsuo Yoshida was inspired by Elvis Presley’s look in VIVA LAS VEGAS. Barrett took creative license to update the appearance of Speed, but gave a nod to the original series by outfitting Emile Hirsch in Speed’s classic outfit for the Casa Cristo 5000 rally race.
Trixie’s color palette was candy-colored pink, matching her zippy helicopter and spirited personality. “I loved my outfits,” says Christina Ricci. “My character’s very girly, but also a little bit of a tomboy.”
Barrett had Spritle and Chim-Chim in mind when she approached Los Angeles-based designer Paul Frank, whose monkey face graphic graces the wildly popular line of apparel and accessories for children and adults. Frank invited Barrett to visit his company’s warehouse, where she found the famous monkey-faced pajamas and thought they’d be perfect for Spritle.
Barrett recalls, “As Paul and I talked, we thought, ‘Why not give Chim-Chim the same pajamas but in reverse?’ So Paul agreed to design a graphic of a boy’s face for us, from which we created Chim-Chim’s pajamas. Everyone got a kick out of them.”
For the look of the various racecar drivers, including Snake Oiler and Gray Ghost, Barrett aimed to create outfits that reflected the established car designs. “Since the cars were designed in advance, I sat down with Owen and discussed the motifs, colors and textures for each driver,” explains Barrett. Snake Oiler’s scaly, rock star-inspired costume and the Norseman-inspired attire of the Thor-Axine Inc. team were Barrett’s personal favorites. “I was fortunate because many of the drivers were stunt men who were game for anything and not worried about looking silly. We had a great time with the costumes.”
To design and handcraft the leather racing jumpsuits used in the film, Barrett sought the help of two skilled leather makers from London with whom she had worked on ERAGON, Patrick Whitaker and Keir Malem.
For Racer X, says Barrett, “We wanted to retain the Masked Racer’s imposing physical presence from the cartoon. Racer X is a superhero, but not the caped kind, so we came up with a look that combines the essence of a superhero and motorbike racer. We decided to create a leather suit that was more everyday, one you could walk around in that didn’t need a lot of maintenance, and didn’t feel as though it was pulled out only to fight crime.”
“One of the first things Larry and Andy said after giving me the part was, ‘The suit’s gonna be pretty tight,’ which was probably their way of saying, ‘Get in shape,’” laughs Matthew Fox. Once on set, the leather jumpsuit presented a unique physical challenge for Fox. “The suit heats up really fast. I was only able to do short takes at a time during the fight sequences before I had to cool off.”
By far the most challenging fight scene was staged on the set created for an overnight pit stop during the Casa Cristo 5000 road race. Ninjas hired by Royalton’s fixer Cruncher Block invade the hotel rooms of Speed Racer and Racer X for a late night assassination attempt.
“The fight sequence involving Racer X, Speed and the ninjas was a lot of fun to create,” says supervising stunt coordinator Chad Stahelski. “The tone for each of the fights was decidedly different. The ninja that fights Racer X is pretty serious, so he gives Racer X a run for his money, but the ninja that fights Speed is actually more of a ‘nonja,’ because we wanted it to be a little more comedic.”
“When Racer X throws a punch you can expect some bone crunching,” asserts Fox. “His blocks are very efficient and have a real rhythm to them.” Fox enjoyed the benefit of extensive martial arts training prior to working on SPEED RACER. “I’ve practiced Tae Kwon Do for a couple of years and competed in tournaments in the past, so the martial arts stunts in this movie gave me a chance to revisit those techniques.” However, training for fight sequences was a new experience for Emile Hirsch. “Working with the stunt team was pretty challenging. I mastered a little bit of Kung Fu and really enjoyed it. I liked learning the different sequences, and came to appreciate how much commitment and focus it takes to be a good stuntman.”
“We gave Emile the basic building blocks for becoming a stuntman. He is a fast learner,” adds Stahelski. “Speed Racer” marks Stahelski’s fifth collaboration with the Wachowskis, having worked on all three THE MATRIX films and V FOR VENDETTA. “The brothers love working with the same people over and over,” comments Joel Silver about the Wachowski brothers’ repeated collaborations with such behind-thescenes artists as Owen Paterson, John Gaeta, Dan Glass and Kym Barrett. “It gives them a familiar shorthand, which is key on any film set and especially on a project of this scope.”
On his first experience working with the Wachowskis, Hirsch offers, “I had no idea that they would be so funny. You see ‘The Matrix’ trilogy and think, ‘Those are pretty serious guys.’ But they’re both fun-loving people. I think they’re just kids at heart; that’s why they were the perfect directors for this project. They really love what they’re doing and it shows.”
Fox says, “Working with Larry and Andy and such an incredible cast and crew was amazing. There were moments when the entire cast was assembled, and you’d look around at everybody in costume and you could hardly believe you were there. We had an awesome time.”
“It was an honor to work with the Wachowskis,” Rain remarks. “What I love most about this project is that the story is about hopes and dreams. So when kids see this movie, the story might give them hope that if you try very hard, you can accomplish amazing things.”
Silver concludes, “We have wanted to make this movie for a long time, and we’re fortunate enough to have had such a great team of actors, artisans and technicians working together to drive this 20th-century classic into the new millennium. We’re thrilled to have the chance to introduce ‘Speed Racer’ to a new generation and very proud to make a family film that audiences of all ages can enjoy.”
ABOUT THE CAST
EMILE HIRSCH (Speed Racer) was most recently seen in writer-director Sean Penn’s critically acclaimed drama INTO THE WILD, based on the best-selling book by Jon Krakauer. Hirsch starred as Christopher McCandless, the idealistic college graduate who abandoned civilization for the Alaskan wilderness. For his work in the film, Hirsch won the National Board of Review Award for Breakthrough Performance by an Actor and received the Rising Star Award at this year’s Palm Springs International Film Festival. He was also nominated for two Screen Actors Guild Awards, a Critics Choice Award and a Gotham Award.
Previously, Hirsch starred in Nick Cassavetes’ true-life crime drama ALPHA DOG, along with an ensemble cast which also featured Justin Timberlake, Sharon Stone and Bruce Willis. The film premiered to rave reviews at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival. Hirsch’s additional credits include Catherine Hardwicke’s LORDS OF DOGTOWN, with Heath Ledger; IMAGINARY HEROES, directed by Dan Harris and also starring Sigourney Weaver and Jeff Daniels; THE GIRL NEXT DOOR, with Elisha Cuthbert; the film festival favorite THE MUDGE BOY; THE EMPEROR’S CLUB, with Kevin Kline and Embeth Davidtz; and THE DANGEROUS LIVES OF ALTER BOYS, co-starring Kieran Culkin and Jodie Foster.
Hirsch is currently in production in San Francisco on Gus Van Sant’s biopic MILK, in which he stars with Sean Penn, Josh Brolin and James Franco. The film chronicles the life of Harvey Milk, a San Francisco city supervisor and the country’s first openly gay elected official, who was assassinated in 1978. Hirsch is portraying gay rights activist Cleve Jones, a Milk ally who went on to found the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt. Born in Los Angeles, Hirsch grew up in Los Angeles and Santa Fe, New Mexico.
CHRISTINA RICCI (Trixie) most recently starred in this February’s offbeat, contemporary fable PENELOPE, co-starring Reese Witherspoon and James McAvoy. Ricci was last seen in BLACK SNAKE MOAN, from director Craig Brewer, starring opposite Samuel L. Jackson. Prior to that, she co-starred in the critically acclaimed film MONSTER, opposite Academy Award winner Charlize Theron, and earned an Emmy Award nomination for her guest role on the hit ABC show GREY’S ANATOMY.
Ricci won over audiences and critics as a child actor, beginning with her debut in MERMAIDS, opposite Cher and Winona Ryder. Especially memorable is her portrayal of the strangely adorable Wednesday Addams in Barry Sonnenfeld’s THE ADDAMS FAMILY and its sequel, ADDAMS FAMILY VALUES. She starred in the summer ‘95 hit CASPER, which, like THE ADDAMS FAMILY, grossed over $100 million at the domestic box office.
Ricci received the prestigious NATO ShowEast Star of the Year Award and the Star of Tomorrow Award from the Motion Picture Booker’s Club for her work in those films. Making a seamless transition to more mature roles in 1997, Ricci received acclaim in Ang Lee’s ensemble film THE ICE STORM, co-starring Kevin Kline, Sigourney Weaver, Joan Allen and Elijah Wood; then starred in Don Roos’ scathing comedy THE OPPOSITE OF SEX, for which she received the Best Actress Award at the Seattle Film Festival, as well as Best Actress nominations for a Golden Globe Award, American Comedy Award and Independent Spirit Award. She appeared opposite filmmaker Vincent Gallo in his “Buffalo 66,” earning a National Board of Review Best Supporting Actress Award for her combined efforts in that film, THE OPPOSITE OF SEX and John Waters’ PECKER. Ricci’s other projects include Wes Craven’s CURSED, Woody Allen’s romantic comedy ANYTHING ELSE, Sally Potter’s THE MAN WHO CRIED and Tim Burton’s SLEEPY HOLLOW, opposite Johnny Depp, in addition to a memorable cameo in Terry Gilliam’s FEAR AND LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS.
Beyond her acting career, Ricci serves as the National Spokesperson for the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) and is a member of the organization’s National Leadership Council.
JOHN GOODMAN (Pops Racer) is one of the entertainment industry’s most respected actors. He earned a Golden Globe nomination in 1992 for his chilling performance in the Coen brothers’ heralded BARTON FINK, after delivering a breakthrough motion picture performance in the Coen brothers’ earlier RAISING ARIZONA.
He has since teamed with them in THE BIG LEBOWSKI and O BROTHER WHERE ART THOU? Goodman was most recently seen starring opposite Steve Carrell in the comedy EVAN ALMIGHTY, the highly anticipated sequel to BRUCE ALMIGHTY. Last year, he also appeared in DEATH SENTENCE with Kevin Bacon, and DRUNKBOAT, opposite John Malkovich. Previously, he starred with Marisa Tomei and Danny DeVito in the romantic comedy drama MARILYN HOTCHKISS BALLROOM DANCING AND CHARM SCHOOL.
He has lent his voice to numerous animated characters as well, with voiceover credits including MONSTERS INC., THE EMPEROR’S NEW GROOVE, TALES OF THE RAT FINK, JUNGLE BOOK 2 and, most recently, the Jerry Seinfeld-penned and produced BEE MOVIE, opposite Seinfeld and Renee Zellweger. Goodman’s many additional film credits include BLUES BROTHERS 2000, THE FLINTSTONES, THE BABE and many others.
A St. Louis native, Goodman studied drama (with fellow students Kathleen Turner and Tess Harper) at Southwest Missouri State, graduating in 1975 with a B.F.A. degree in Theatre. His stage credits include regional theatre productions of “Henry IV, Parts I and II,” “Antony and Cleopatra” and “As You Like It.” He performed in a touring production of “The Robber Bridegroom” and starred in three Broadway shows: “Loose Ends” in 1979, “Big River” in 1985 and “The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui” in 2002. In 2001, he starred with Meryl Streep and Kevin Kline in the Shakespeare-in-the-Park production of “The Seagull.”
Goodman will next be seen onscreen in the drama IN THE ELECTRIC MIST, opposite Tommy Lee Jones and Peter Sarsgaard. He is currently in production on two films: director P.J. Hogan’s CONFESSIONS OF A SHOPAHOLIC, based on Sophie Kinsella’s acclaimed novel, and the indie romantic comedy GIGANTIC, with Paul Dano and Zooey Deschanel.
SUSAN SARANDON (Mom Racer) brings her own brand of fierce intelligence to every role she plays, from her acclaimed, fearless portrayal in BULL DURHAM to her Academy Award-nominated performances in ATLANTIC CITY, THELMA AND LOUISE, LORENZO’S OIL and THE CLIENT and her Oscar-winning and SAG Award-winning work in DEAD MAN WALKING.
Sarandon was recently seen as the villainous queen in the blockbuster live action-animated hit ENCHANTED and in director John Turturro’s musical comedy ROMANCE AND CIGARETTES, opposite James Gandolfini, Kate Winslet and Steve Buscemi. Her other recent credits include the 1975 cult classic musical THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW and Louis Malle’s controversial 1978 film PRETTY BABY.
In addition to her many on-screen credits, she has lent her vocal talents to the animated features RUGRATS IN PARIS, JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH and CATS AND DOGS.
On Broadway, Sarandon appeared in Gore Vidal’s “An Evening with Richard Nixon” and received critical acclaim for her performances off-Broadway in “A Coupla White Chicks Sitting Around Talking” and the thriller “Extremities.” She also appeared off-off-Broadway in the moving post-9/11 play “The Guys.”
Sarandon can currently be seen starring opposite Ralph Fiennes in the highly acclaimed HBO biographical telefilm BERNARD AND DORIS, which premiered on HBO in February.
MATTHEW FOX (Racer X) currently stars as the conflicted, heroic Dr. Jack Shepherd on the hit ABC series LOST. For his work on the Emmy-winning Best Drama, Fox shared the 2005 Screen Actors Guild Ensemble Award and was also nominated for Golden Globe and Television Critics Association Awards.
Fox was most recently seen in the February release VANTAGE POINT, a political thriller in which he starred opposite Dennis Quaid, Sigourney Weaver, Forest Whitaker and William Hurt. Previously, he starred with Matthew McConaughey in the sports drama WE ARE MARSHALL, playing a football coach in the inspiring story, based on true events, of a small town’s struggle with devastating loss. His feature credits also include writer-director Joe Carnahan’s crime thriller SMOKIN’ ACES, in which he joined an ensemble cast featuring Ben Affleck, Ray Liotta and Ryan Reynolds. In 1999, he appeared in a touching turn opposite Donald Sutherland in the madefor-television drama BEHIND THE MASK. In 2002, he starred as a private investigatorwhose near-death experience bridges a gap to the spirit world in the UPN series HAUNTED.
Fox first came to national prominence and received critical acclaim as Charlie Salinger, eldest of five orphaned siblings, in the hugely popular PARTY OF FIVE, which ran on the FOX Network from 1994 to 2000. The series received Golden Globe Award nominations as Best Drama for two years in a row, winning the award in 1996.
ROGER ALLAM (Royalton) recently played Sir Robin Janvrin opposite Helen Mirren’s Oscar-winning performance in Stephen Frears’ acclaimed biopic THE QUEEN. His screen credits also include the wartime Irish drama THE WIND THAT SHAKES THE BARLEY, Michael Winterbottom’s TRISTRAM SHANDY: A COCK AND BULL STORY and the comedy caper THE MISADVENTURES OF MR. WILT. SPEED RACER reunites him with filmmakers the Wachowski brothers and producer Joel Silver, with whom he previously worked on the action thriller V FOR VENDETTA.
Allam’s extensive work in British and American television includes appearances in such series as THE THICK OF IT, MI-5, THE CATHERINE TATE SHOW, WAKING THE DEAD and BETWEEN THE LINES. His telefilm credits include Showtime’s THE ROMAN SPRING OF MRS. STONE, with Helen Mirren; HBO’s RKO 281, in which he played Walt Disney; Hallmark Entertainment’s STRANDED, the BBC’s LANDING ON THE SUN and HBO’s THE INVESTIGATION: INSIDE A TERRORIST BOMBING. He can currently be seen in the biographical drama THE CURSE OF STEPTOE, which premiered on the BBC in March.
Allam is also a distinguished stage actor, best known for his work with the Royal Shakespeare Company and the Royal National Theatre. He is the recipient of two Laurence Olivier Theatre Awards: Best Supporting Actor for “Money,” in 2000 at the Royal National Theatre, and Best Actor for “Privates on Parade,” in 2002 at the Donmar Warehouse. He originated the role of Javert in the long-running hit musical “Les Misérables,” and recently received acclaim in the West End for his role opposite Jodhi May in David Harrower’s dark psychological drama “Blackbird.”
PAULIE LITT (Spritle) has appeared in the feature films ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF A SPOTLESS MIND, starring Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet, and JERSEY GIRL, with Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez.
Litt is perhaps best known as the quirky little brother in the popular ABC sitcom HOPE AND FAITH, for which he received a 2006 Young Artist Award for Best Supporting Young Actor in a TV Comedy Series. Previously, Litt appeared on the NBC drama THIRD WATCH and had a recurring role on SESAME STREET for two years. He teamed up with Regis Philbin to sing on LIVE WITH REGIS AND KELLY’S 2004 CHRISTMAS EVE SPECIAL.
Additionally, Litt has appeared in more than 20 national TV commercials and PSA’s. He has appeared as a featured vocalist on SHOWTIME AT THE APOLLO, and is a featured artist on Radio Disney’s INCUBATOR program. He has performed at various Radio Disney shows and enjoyed more than 16 weeks of top ten chart success with a song on XM Kids Radio.
KICK GURRY (Sparky) began his film career in Australia by starring in the Australian Film Institute’s Best Film of 2000, LOOKING FOR ALIBRANDI, opposite Anthony Lapaglia.
Gurry has subsequently worked alongside some of the most acclaimed directors and actors working in film today, with feature credits including Terrence THE THIN RED LINE, BUFFALO SOLDIERS, with Joaquin Phoenix; David Mamet’s SPARTAN, and executive producer Quentin Tarantino’s DALTRY CALHOUN.
Back in Australia, Gurry shot the lead role in acclaimed director Alex Proyas’s GARAGE DAYS, as well as Rachel Ward’s AFI Award-winning THE BIG HOUSE.
BENNO FÜRMANN (Inspector Detector) is an acclaimed German actor who has appeared in several international English-language film and television productions, including THE ORDER, opposite Heath Ledger and directed by Brian Helgeland; HBO’s acclaimed MY HOUSE IN UMBRIA, starring Maggie Smith and directed by Richard Loncraine; the miniseries RING OF THE NIBELUNGS/DARK KINGDOM: THE DRAGON KING, MERRY CHRISTMAS, with Diane Kruger; CRUSADE IN JEANS and, most recently, THE MUTANT CHRONICLES, starring Thomas Jane and John Malkovich; Marc Rothemund’s PANORAMA and Leander Haußmann’s WARUN MANNER NICHT ZUHOREN UND FRAUEN NICHT EINPARKEN KONNEN.
In 2005, Fürmann, with actress Nina Hoss and writer-director Christian Petzold, received the coveted Adolf Grimme Prize for WOLFSBURG. In 2001, the Berlin International Film Festival honored him as a Shooting Star. For his performance in FREUNDE (Friends) he won the 2000 Bavarian Film Award.
Following his feature debut in EINFACH NUR LIEBE (Simply Love), Fürmann appeared in director Til Schweiger’s feature debut DER EUSBAR (The Polar Bear).
Fürmann began his career in 1991, appearing on German television in Edgar Reitz’ miniseries DIE ZWEITE HEIMAT (2nd Heimat) and the telefilm SCHULD WAR NUR DER (Blame It on the Bossanova).
Fürmann will next be seen in writer-director Philipp Stölzl’s upcoming feature NORDWAND.
HIROYUKI SANADA (Mr. Musha) has impressed international audiences with his versatility in such acclaimed films as THE LAST SAMURAI, with Tom Cruise, Yoji Yamada’s 2004 Oscar-nominated film THE TWILIGHT SAMURAI and SHAKARU, an official selection at the 1995 Cannes Film Festival. Sanada also starred in the original Japanese version of the modern horror-classic THE RING.
Most recently, Sanada was seen in the science fiction adventure film SUNSHINE, directed by Danny Boyle, opposite Cillian Murphy, Chris Evans and Michelle Yeoh, and in RUSH HOUR 3 as the lead villain, opposite Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker.
Previously, he starred in Chen Kaige’s epic fantasy romance THE PROMISE, a role which required him to learn Mandarin Phonetically, and in 2005 made his English language film debut in the Merchant Ivory film THE WHITE COUNTESS, opposite Ralph Fiennes and Natasha Richardson.
He will next be seen starring opposite Anthony Hopkins in the drama THE CITY OF YOUR FINAL DESTINATION, which reunites Sanada with director James Ivory. Also an internationally celebrated stage actor, Sanada starred as Romeo in an acclaimed Japanese production of “Romeo & Juliet,” after which he starred as the title character in an acclaimed production of “Hamlet.” On the London stage, he starred as the Fool, alongside Nigel Hawthorne, in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s millennium production of “King Lear,” for which he was made a Member of the British Empire (MBE) by Queen Elizabeth II.
RAIN (Taejo Togokahn) is a top Korean R&B/pop singer whom TIME Magazine named one of the “100 Most Influential People Who Shape Our World” in 2006; in 2007 PEOPLE Magazine included him in their annual “Most Beautiful People” issue. After debuting with the 2002 album “Rain,” which spawned the hit single “Bad Guy,” Rain starred in the 2003 drama series SANG DOO! LET’S GO TO SCHOOL. His second album, “How to Avoid the Sun,” followed, and scored a hit single with the title track.
He subsequently starred in the 2004 drama series FULL HOUSE, which became one of the highest-rated Korean dramas of all time, enjoyed broadcast exposure in many countries and brought him the Best Actor Award at that year’s KBS Acting Awards. While shooting the 2005 miniseries A LOVE TO KILL, Rain’s headstrong approach to the challenging role made him a more versatile actor.
Rain’s third album, “It’s Raining,” sold over one million copies in Asia, making it his most successful album to date both domestically and internationally, and the subsequent “Rainy Day” concert tour was a success in Korea, Japan, China, Taiwan and the United States, featuring two shows at New York City’s Madison Square Garden.
“Rain’s World,” the performer’s fourth album, was released in 2006 and led to the highly acclaimed “Rain’s Coming” World Tour. In 2005, Rain became the first Asian performing artist invited to perform at the MTV Video Music Awards. His other music industry honors include the MTV Asia Grand Slam. He was named Favorite Korean Artist at the 2005 MTV Asia Aid, held in Bangkok, and won the Most Popular Asian Artist Award from Channel [V] Thailand, as well as the Best Buzz Asia Award at the 2005 MTV Japan Video Music Awards and the Best Korean Singer Award at the MTV-CCTV Mandarin Music Honors in Beijing.
Rain made his feature film debut in I’M A CYBORG, BUT THAT’S OK, directed by Chan-wook Park. The film and its director won the Alfred Bauer prize at the 2007 Berlin Film Festival, and Rain was named Best New Actor at the 43rd Baeksang Arts Awards. Rain is currently shooting the action film NINJA ASSASSIN, which re-teams him with producers Joel Silver, Andy Wachowski and Larry Wachowski.
RICHARD ROUNDTREE (Ben Burns) has been a leading actor for more than thirty years. He recently won a Peabody Award for his narration of the PBS documentary THE RISE AND FALL OF JIM CROW.
Roundtree is perhaps best known to audiences for his starring role in Gordon Parks’ 1971 action film SHAFT. The film catapulted him into the world arena, and he continued the franchise with the features SHAFT’S BIG SCORE! and SHAFT IN AFRICA and the television series SHAFT.
Roundtree has starred opposite some of Hollywood’s most well-known actors, including Clint Eastwood, Robert Shaw, Peter O’Toole, Richard Harris, David Niven, Tony Curtis and Laurence Olivier. Among the more than 70 feature films in which he has appeared are the smash hit thriller SE7EN, the critically acclaimed ONCE UPON A TIME…WHEN WE WERE COLORED, the 2000 remake of SHAFT, in which he reprised his star-making role; STEEL with basketball superstar Shaquile O’Neal, GEORGE OF THE JUNGLE, with Brendan Fraiser; and CORKY ROMANO, with Chris Kattan.
Roundtree’s television credits have included regular roles on the CBS series OUTLAWS; 413 HOPE STREET, for which he garnered an NAACP Image Award nomination for Best Leading Actor in a Series; and ABC’s BUDDIES, with Dave Chappel. He has also appeared in many television movies, including the top-rated HAVING OUR SAY, in which he portrayed Booker T. Washington; CHRISTMAS IN CONNECTICUT, directed by Arnold Schwarzenegger; and the Starz! production of JOE AND MAX.
Roundtree began his career as a model before joining New York’s acclaimed Negro Ensemble Company. A succession of Off-Broadway performances followed, leading to his starring role as Jack Johnson in THE GREAT WHITE HOPE.
A dedicated advocate for the fight against breast cancer, Roundtree remains active on the lecture circuit and consistently takes part in events to help raise awareness and funds towards finding a cure for the disease.
ABOUT THE FILMMAKERS
THE WACHOWSKI BROTHERS (Writers / Directors / Producers) were born and raised in Chicago and have been working together for more than 30 years. Prior to writing, directing and producing SPEED RACER, they wrote and produced V FOR VENDETTA, directed by James McTeigue and starring Natalie Portman and Hugo Weaving. The Wachowskis also wrote, directed and executive produced THE MATRIX trilogy, starring Keanu Reeves and Laurence Fishburne. In 1996, they wrote and directed their first feature film, BOUND, a thriller starring Gina Gershon, Jennifer Tilly and Joe Pantoliano.
JOEL SILVER (Producer), one of the most prolific and successful producers in the history of motion pictures, has produced over 50 films, including the groundbreaking THE MATRIX trilogy, the blockbuster four-part LETHAL WEAPON franchise, and the seminal action films DIE HARD and PREDATOR. To date, Silver’s catalog of films have earned more than $10 billion in worldwide revenue from all sources.
He recently produced the holiday comedy FRED CLAUS, starring Vince Vaughn and Paul Giamatti, and the critically acclaimed psychological thriller THE BRAVE ONE, starring Jodie Foster and Terrence Howard under the direction of Neil Jordan.
Silver recently structured a deal for his Dark Castle Entertainment production company, which gives him green-lighting power and creative control of all films produced under the banner. The next Dark Castle film to be released will be ROCKNROLLA, directed by Guy Ritchie and starring Gerard Butler, Tom Wilkinson, Thandie Newton, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges and Jeremy Piven. The film is slated to open on October 31, 2008. Upcoming Dark Castle films also include WHITEOUT, a thriller directed by Dominic Sena and starring Kate Beckinsale; the horror film THE FACTORY, starring John Cusack; the horror thriller ORPHAN; and James McTeigue’s actioner NINJA ASSASSIN, which Silver is producing with the Wachowski brothers.
Formed by Silver and Robert Zemeckis, in the spirit of the late horror impresario William Castle, Dark Castle previously produced a string of hit films beginning with the record-breaking 1999 release of HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL, followed by THIR13EN GHOSTS in 2001 GHOST SHIP in 2002, GOTHIKA in 2003 and HOUSE OF WAX in 2005. In 2007, Dark Castle released THE REAPING, starring Hilary Swank.
Silver’s 1999 production THE MATRIX grossed over $456 million globally, earning more than any other Warner Bros. Pictures film in the studio’s history at the time of its release. Universally acclaimed for its innovative storytelling and visuals, THE MATRIX won four Academy Awards, including Best Visual Effects. The first DVD release to sell one million units, THE MATRIX DVD was Instrumental in powering the initial sale of consumer DVD machines.
The second installment of the epic MATRIX trilogy, THE MATRIX RELOADED, earned over $739 million at the worldwide box office, making it the highest-grossing R-rated film of all time. The opening weekend box office receipts for THE MATRIX REVOLUTIONS, the final explosive chapter in the trilogy, totaled a staggering $203 million worldwide. To date, THE MATRIX franchise has grossed $3 billion from all sources worldwide.
While overseeing production on THE MATRIX RELOADED and THE MATRIX REVOLUTIONS, Silver produced the integral video game ENTER THE MATRIX, which features one hour of additional film footage written and directed by the Wachowski brothers and starring Jada Pinkett Smith and Anthony Wong, who reprised their roles from the films.
He also executive produced THE ANIMATRIX, a groundbreaking collection of nine short anime films inspired by the visionary action and storytelling that power THE MATRIX. Silver later produced the action thriller V FOR VENDETTA,” starring Natalie Portman, and the action comedy thriller KISS KISS BANG BANG, written and directed by LETHAL WEAPON screenwriter Shane Black and starring Robert Downey Jr., Val Kilmer and Michelle Monaghan. He also produced the hit films ROMEO MUST DIE, starring Jet Li and Aaliyah; EXIT WOUNDS, starring Steven Seagal and DMX; and SWORDFISH, starring John Travolta, Hugh Jackman and Halle Berry.
A successful television producer as well, Silver is currently executive producing the CBS Friday night series MOONLIGHT, a romantic thriller with a twist on the vampire legend, which emerged as a hit last season, winning the People’s Choice Award for Favorite New TV Drama. He previously executive produced the critically acclaimed UPN television series VERONICA MARS, starring Kristen Bell. Silver also executive produced, with Richard Donner, David Giler, Walter Hill and Robert Zemeckis, eight seasons of the award-winning HBO series TALES FROM THE CRYPT, as well as two TALES FROM THE CRYPT films.
Silver began his career at Lawrence Gordon Productions, where he ultimately ascended to President of Motion Pictures. During his tenure, he also served as associate producer on THE WARRIORS and, with Gordon, produced 48 HRS., STREETS OF FIRE and BREWSTER’S MILLIONS.
In 1985, Silver launched his Silver Pictures production banner with the breakout hit COMMANDO, followed by JUMPIN’ JACK FLASH and PREDATOR. Silver Pictures solidified its status as one of the industry’s leading production companies with the release of the LETHAL WEAPON series and the action blockbusters DIE HARD and DIE HARD 2: DIE HARDER. Silver also went on to produce THE LAST BOY SCOUT, DEMOLITION MAN, RICHIE RICH, EXECUTIVE DECISION and CONSPIRACY THEORY.
Long before starting his producing career, as a student at Columbia High School in Maplewood, New Jersey, in 1967, Silver and a group of his friends developed a game called Ultimate Frisbee. The fast-moving team sport has since become a global phenomenon supported by tournaments in 50 countries.
GRANT HILL (Producer) recently served as producer on V FOR VENDETTA, and executive producer and unit production manager on THE MATRIX RELOADED and THE MATRIX REVOLUTIONS. Previously, he produced Terrence Malick’s THE THIN RED LINE and was co-producer on James Cameron’s TITANIC. He is currently producing Terrence Malick’s TREE OF LIFE and NINJA ASSASSIN with Joel Silver, Andy Wachowski and Larry Wachowski.
DAVID LANE SELTZER (Executive Producer) is a founding partner of Management 360, one of Hollywood’s leading management/production companies. He began working on bringing SPEED RACER to the big screen in 1986 when, at the age of 21, he optioned the motion picture rights to the original animated TV series. Seltzer has been actively involved in the development of the project over the past 20 years.
Seltzer began his career in talent management at Industry Entertainment, where, over the course of a decade, he began to Represent numerous film and television clients, many of whom he continues to work with today. In addition, Seltzer also Represented the late screen legend Jack Lemmon, for whom he executive produced the award-winning Showtime film INHERIT THE WIND.
Seltzer studied history and literature at Harvard University, graduating in 1987. After a stint a Columbia Pictures, he earned an MBA from the Wharton School of Business in 1991.
MICHAEL LAMBERT (Executive Producer) has been working with filmed entertainment since 1974, when he began his career at Viacom in New York City. He was involved in the start-up of Showtime and Lifetime cable networks, and was responsible for the acquisition and sale of motion pictures for theatrical distribution, broadcast and cable television, eventually rising to the helm of the television division at age 27. He then joined HBO, where he was responsible for the international coproduction of HBO filmed entertainment, including HBO Premiere Films and Original Television Series. Lambert is credited with establishing HBO Video and numerous production and distribution joint ventures worldwide.
In 1985, Lambert moved to Los Angeles and joined 20th Century Fox Film Corporation as President of Domestic Television. He oversaw the company’s television production and distribution activities, including such scripted shows as 21 JUMP STREET, IN LIVING COLOR, L.A. LAW, M*A*S*H, MR. BELVEDERE, MR. PRESIDENT, THE SIMPSONS and THE TRACEY ULLMAN SHOW, along with some of television’s first reality series, including A CURRENT AFFAIR, STUDS, AMERICA’S MOST WANTED and COPS.
Lambert was also responsible for the distribution of all 20th Century Fox motion picture product to cable and broadcast television. He was instrumental in the acquisition of the Metromedia Television Station Group, which became the foundation of the Fox Broadcast Network.
In 1992, Lambert Television, Inc. was formed as a media investment, holding and management company with interests in Broadcasting, technology, programming and distribution. The company owns and operates television stations in the U.S. and produces and distributes first-run syndicated television programs. Lambert joined with his longtime friends and business partners Hal Gaba and Norman Lear in the formation of Crescent Entertainment, which, through its relationship with Village Roadshow Pictures, has been involved in the production of such motion pictures as CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY, OCEAN’S THIRTEEN the Academy Award-winning HAPPY FEET, UNACCOMPANIED MINORS and I AM LEGEND.
BRUCE BERMAN (Executive Producer) is Chairman and CEO of Village Roadshow Pictures. The company will co-produce 65 theatrical features in a joint partnership with Warner Bros. through 2008, with all films distributed worldwide by Warner Bros. Pictures and in select territories by Village Roadshow Pictures.
The initial slate of films produced under the pact included such hits as PRACTICAL MAGIC, starring Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman; ANALYZE THIS, teaming Robert DeNiro and Billy Crystal; THE MATRIX, starring Keanu Reeves and Laurence Fishburne; THREE KINGS, starring George Clooney; SPACE COWBOYS, directed by and starring Clint Eastwood; and MISS CONGENIALITY, starring Sandra Bullock and Benjamin Bratt.
Under the Village Roadshow Pictures banner, Berman has subsequently executive produced such wide-ranging successes as TRAINING DAY, for which Denzel Washington won an Academy Award; OCEAN’S ELEVEN, starring George Clooney, Brad Pitt and Julia Roberts; its sequels OCEAN’S TWELVE and OCEAN’S THIRTEEN; TWO WEEK’S NOTICE, pairing Sandra Bullock and Hugh Grant; MYSTIC RIVER, starring Sean Penn and Tim Robbins in Oscar-winning performances; the second and third installments of THE MATRIX trilogy, THE MATRIX RELOADED and THE MATRIX REVOLUTIONS; Tim Burton’s CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY, starring Johnny Depp; the Oscarwinning animated comedy adventure HAPPY FEET; Neil Jordan’s THE BRAVE ONE, starring Jodie Foster; and, most recently, the I AM LEGEND starring Will Smith.
Village Roadshow’s next release is the action comedy GET SMART, teaming Steve Carell and Anne Hathaway. The company’s upcoming projects also include the romantic drama NIGHTS IN RODANTHE, reuniting Richard Gere and Diane Lane; the comedy YES MAN, starring Jim Carrey; and GRAN TORINO, directed by and starring Clint Eastwood.
Berman got his start in the motion picture business working with Jack Valenti at the MPAA while attending Georgetown Law School in Washington, DC. After earning his law degree, he landed a job at Casablanca Films in 1978. Moving to Universal, he worked his way up to a production Vice President in 1982.
In 1984, Berman joined Warner Bros. as a production Vice President, and was promoted to Senior Vice President of Production four years later. He was appointed President of Theatrical Production in September 1989 and, in 1991, was named President of worldwide Theatrical Production, where he served through May 1996.
In May of 1996, Berman started Plan B Entertainment, an independent motion picture company at Warner Bros. Pictures. He was named Chairman and CEO of Village Roadshow Pictures in February 1998.
DAVID TATTERSALL (Director of Photography) was born and raised in the beautiful Lake District of northern England. He later attended Goldsmith’s University of London, where he graduated with a first class (Honors) Fine Arts Degree. He then studied at Britain’s National Film and Television School, where he specialized in camera and lighting.
Tattersall’s highly regarded student films include KING’S CHRISTMAS, which received a 1987 BAFTA nomination for Best Short; CAPRICE, which was selected for the Edinburgh and Milan Film Festivals; and METROPOLIS APOCALYPSE, which screened at Cannes in 1988.
Tattersall is adept at switching between film and the very latest in digital photography, including big budget, large scale, effects-laden, action-packed adrenalin rides, as well as smaller films which require a “fine art” touch. He has enjoyed employing both talents in movies such as RADIOLAND MURDERS, CON AIR, THE MAJESTIC, THE GREEN MILE, THE VERTICAL LIMIT, DIE ANOTHER DAY, LARA CROFT TOMB RAIDER: THE CRADLE OF LIFE, STAR WARS EPISODES I, II and III, XXX2, NEXT, MATADOR and THE HUNTING PARTY Tattersall’s television credits include YELLOWTHREAD STREET and THE YOUNG INDIANA JONES CHRONICLES, for which he won an Emmy Award and received A.S.C. nominations for Best Cinematography.
He is currently working on the remake of THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL.
OWEN PATERSON (Production Designer) recently designed V FOR VENDETTA and both THE MATRIX REVOLUTIONS and THE MATRIX RELOADED, having also served as production designer on Andy and Larry Wachowski’s first installment of THE MATRIX trilogy. He is currently working in Australia on George Miller’s JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA.
Paterson won an Australian Film Institute Award for Best Production Design for Stephan Elliot’s THE ADVENTURES OF PRICILLA, QUEEN OF THE DESERT. Among his other credits are RED PLANE, Stephan Elliot’s WELCOME TO WHOOP WHOOP, RACE THE SUN, MINNAMURRA, THE PLACE AT THE COAST and TRAVELLING NORTH. Paterson also served as art director on the Australian features BLISS and THE COOLANGATTA GOLD.
Paterson’s television credits include NORIEGA: GOD’S FAVORITE, THE BEAST, SHOUT! THE STORY OF JOHNNY O’KEEFE and THE RIDDLE OF THE STINSON.
KYM BARRETT (Costume Designer) began her career in theater, where she gained eight years of experience as a costume designer. For her first film, Baz Luhrmann’s ROMEO + JULIET, she received a Saturn Award nomination from the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films. Extensive work in commercials followed, and led to director Jake Kasdan’s film ZERO EFFECT, on which her work specifically impressed cinematographer Bill Pope. When Pope insisted she meet with the directors of his next film, THE MATRIX, Barrett’s fruitful collaboration with the Wachowski brothers began.
After THE MATRIX, which became a phenomenon and earned Barrett both a Costume Designers Guild Award nomination and her second Saturn Award nomination, she went on to design the Persian Gulf War film THREE KINGS, the technically demanding sci-fi actioner RED PLANET and the Victorian Era London-set thriller FROM HELL, which earned her a Golden Satellite nomination as well as her third Saturn Award nomination. Her subsequent credits include THE MATRIX RELOADED; THE MATRIX REVOLUTIONS, which brought her a fourth Saturn Award nomination; the horror thriller GOTHIKA, starring Halle Berry and Robert Downey Jr.; and the romantic comedies MONSTER-IN-LAW, starring Jane Fonda, and RUMOR HAS IT…, with Jennifer Aniston. In 2007, Barrett received her second Costume Designers Guild Award nomination, for her work on the fantasy action film ERAGON.
Barrett’s designs will next be seen in two upcoming films: the historical drama THE CHILDREN OF HUANG SHI, with Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Radha Mitchell, and the sci-fi remake THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL, on which she designed for principal cast members Keanu Reeves, Jennifer Connelly and Jaden Smith.
MICHAEL GIACCHINO (Composer) was nominated for an Academy Award this year for his score to the animated blockbuster RATATOUILLE, which went on to win the Oscar for Best Animated Film. He made his feature film composing breakthrough with his acclaimed score for THE INCREDIBLES, and went on to compose music for the liveaction superhero film SKY HIGH, the comedy-drama THE FAMILY STONE, Albert Brooks’ LOOKING FOR COMEDY IN THE MUSLIM WORLD and the thriller MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE 3.
His next feature score will be heard in STAR TREK, the highly anticipated sci-fi actioner from filmmaker J.J. Abrams.
In addition to his work in feature films, Giacchino has composed for many genres in other media, including television shows, animated shorts, video games, and standalone symphonies, with themes running the gamut from driving to melancholic, suspenseful to serene. Fans of the hit ABC shows LOST and ALIAS have been enjoying his compositions for several seasons. Previously, Giacchino scored the PlayStation video game based on Steven Spielberg’s summer box office hit THE LOST WORLD, featuring the first original live orchestral score written for a PlayStation console game, which was recorded with the Seattle Symphony. He went on to compose many orchestral scores for interactive media, including the highly successful MEDAL OF HONOR series, a World War II simulation game created by Spielberg.
On May 13th, 2000, the Haddonfield Symphony premiered Giacchino’s first Symphony, “Camden 2000.” The concert took place at the Sony E-Center in Camden, New Jersey, with proceeds benefiting the Heart of Camden, an organization dedicated to rebuilding inner-city housing.
Giacchino studied film production at the School of Visual Arts in New York City, and subsequently pursued composition studies at the prestigious Juilliard School.
JOHN GAETA (Visual Effects Supervisor) won an Academy Award and a BAFTA Award for his work pioneering “Bullet Time” and other groundbreaking effects for THE MATRIX. He then continued his collaboration with the Wachowski brothers overseeing effects on the second and third films in the cinematic trilogy. For THE MATRIX RELOADED, he won two Visual Effects Society Awards: for Best Single Visual Effect and for Outstanding Visual Effects. For THE MATRIX REVOLUTIONS, he again received a VES Award nomination for Outstanding Visual Effects.
Gaeta is active in advocating next-generation hybrid entertainment, fusing state-of-the-art film storytelling and interactive game design. Beyond his film role for SPEED RACER, he assisted the Wachowskis additionally by advising on the look and play objectives of the Wii game console and other video game counterparts.
DAN GLASS (Visual Effects Supervisor) won a Visual Effects Society Award for his groundbreaking work in the Wachowski brothers’ THE MATRIX RELOADED. Marking his fourth collaboration with the visionary filmmakers on SPEED RACER, Glass also served as visual effects supervisor on THE MATRIX REVOLUTIONS and V FOR VENDETTA, for which he received a Satellite Award nomination for Best Visual Effects. In 2006, he received BAFTA and Saturn Award nominations for Best Visual Effects for Christopher Nolan’s BATMAN BEGINS. He was also visual effects supervisor on the horror thriller THIR13EN GHOSTS.
Glass began his career in visual effects in 1995 and went on to serve in various capacities as a designer, compositer and animator. Among his many credits are MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE, MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE II , THE BEACH, SLEEPY HOLLOW, THE BONE COLLECTOR, NOTTING HILL, TOMORROW NEVER DIES, and MUPPET TREASURE ISLAND.
For more information on SPEED RACER please see the movie’s official website and the earlier coverage here on SciFi Japan:
- Here He Comes! Here Comes SPEED RACER!
- Part 1: Go Speed Go! A Series Overview
- Part 2: Racers Start Your Engines! How it All Began
- Part 3: Speed Racer is Born! MACH GO GO GO Comes to the U.S.
And stay turned for an upcoming interview with Rain and more coverage of both the original SPEED RACER and the new Warner Brothers’ motion picture!